Trip report: Málaga

Posted on August 27, 2008 by Steve

Ayda picked up a trip to Spain with a 48-hour layover last week. I felt it was my duty to support her career by accompanying her and helping her finish pitchers of sangria and platters of seafood. Standby travel is a sketchy prospect in August, but I made it out of New York and got the last seat coming back after a booked passenger failed to show.

Málaga is on the Mediterranean coast, about 90 miles east of Gibraltar. I tried to spot the Rock during our approach, but we were too far off and the geography was pretty mountainous. I thought of "Andalucia with fields full of grain" but the land was mostly brown, interrupted by what looked like olive groves. (The song was on my mind after hearing a piano version on Radio Paradise.) On the ground we got oriented with a map from the hotel and headed to the beach for a nap.

On our last trip to Spain, to Madrid on New Year's Eve, we were unable to find dinner around six in the evening because all the restaurants were closing, despite the throngs in the streets. This time the restaurants were all open, but it was difficult to find an available table, even after midnight. A festival was going on, and we managed to miss most of the activities but not the crowds. During the day we ate at the beach, enjoying fried anchovies (photo) and cheap beer. Evenings we went for reliable tapas, paella, and sangria.

There wasn't time for a lot of tourism, but we took the train to nearby Fuengirola on Friday for a nicer beach and more wandering around. The Spaniards seem to go for splashy public works, and a minor inlet that would hardly justify a wooden boardwalk back home was excuse enough for a fancy cable-stayed pedestrian bridge.

After sweating out the last hour before boarding at the airport, I settled in to my steerage seat and set out to beat all other passengers at Inflight Trivia Challenge. Monitors in every seatback are now powered by some flavor of Linux (I saw one endlessly rebooting) and provide movies on demand, games, and a flight-in-progress map. I couldn't top the all-time high score list, but took third place at 4600 and beat all my fellow passengers on the flight. I even bested CAPNJN in A1, the crew rest seat, on some Aviation category questions.